Officials say boiler problem a quick fix; No opening date set for detention center's 100-bed addition


Problems with two new boilers in the long-awaited 100-bed addition under construction at the Carroll County Detention Center can be fixed quickly, authorities said yesterday.

An inspector from the Department of Labor Licensing and Regulations, a state agency that governs boilers, has denied certification on the new boilers, meaning they cannot be used until modifications are made, said Tom Rio, chief of the county's Bureau of Building Construction.

Authorities can't say when the $6.1 million addition will open. Its opening has twice been delayed, first because of unfinished painting, wiring and cleanup, and then because of the problems with the boilers.

The inspector's report recommended some fine tuning, changing some "blow-off pressure valves and some sensors" Rio said. "They are items that can be quickly addressed."

Carolyn Norris, project manager for CJF Inc., the Cockeysville-based general contractor, said she hoped to know by today how quickly the problems could be resolved.

"I don't want to say anything until I know for certain," Norris said.

She agreed with Rio that the problems appeared "simple to fix."

Rio said the architect's design for the boilers does not specifically address the items the state inspector wants corrected. He said the inspector's report did not suggest installation was improperly performed. He said the general contractor was trying to work with the subcontractor who made the installation and the manufacturer to resolve the matter.

Having two boilers is customary, Rio said, because one backs up the other, in case one has to be shut down for repairs. They are not operated simultaneously, he said. The problems apply to both boilers, he said.

Jail officials are anxious to occupy the addition because of crowding at the detention center. Yesterday's inmate population stood at 190, which is 24 above operating capacity.

Lt. Col. George R. Hardinger, detention center warden, was aware of the boiler problems Wednesday. He said his staff would continue to operate under the adverse crowded conditions until occupancy of the new addition is granted.

Ground was broken for the new wing in March 1998 and was projected to be completed Feb. 22, 1999, but contractors were thrown into a delay early when excavators found concrete and debris from two to 20 feet below the surface.

The excavation difficulties caused a revision in the completion date to mid-May, but additional change orders -- requests by the county to modify designs specified in the original contract -- have further delayed completion of the project, county officials have said.

In June, Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning questioned the progress of the work, but has backed off on any criticism.

Hardinger expected his staff could move in Sept. 15 and begin moving inmates into the facility after an operational shakedown and a thorough search of the building to be certain any leftover construction materials were removed.

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